Category Archives: Team Development

Guest Post – Diversity of Thoughts Raises Complexity By Sunnie Giles

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Our post today is from author and thought leader Dr. Sunnie Giles. Dr. Giles’ latest book, The New Science of Radical Innovation, provides a clear process for radical innovation that produces 10x improvements and has been endorsed prominent industry leaders such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith and Sean Covey.

“As we have seen, harnessing the collective intelligence of people from diverse backgrounds can solve seemingly insurmountable feats, impossible to solve by one super expert. To curate various interdisciplinary functions within an organization, or even across diverse organizations, and produce extraordinary results, leaders must be open to divergent views and flexible enough to seriously consider the merits of opposing views. Valuing diverse opinions requires asking questions more than issuing orders. Collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group.

“Scott Page also mathematically explains that collective error is almost always smaller than individual errors, because collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group. From this equation, we can surmise that there are two ways to decrease collective error: reduce the average individual error, by hiring smart people; or increase the diversity of thoughts from many people. It also highlights a potential risk: if we adopt other people’s opinions or mental models too much, we might reduce individual errors, but the diversity (variance) of the group goes down, resulting in higher collective error. This is a mathematical explanation for what happens in groupthink; people make irrational or dysfunctional decisions in an effort to conform to each other (as was the case in the space shuttle Challenger disaster). Everyone on your team must be valued and given credence to minimize collective error. This, in turn, raises collective complexity.

“The reason diversity lowers collective errors is that people bring different heuristics and perspectives shaped by their unique life experiences. Those who grow up in the Siberian tundra have a much richer vocabulary and perspective on cold weather, ice, vodka, and caribou, and see the world through those lenses. Those who grow up in a thatch-roofed house built on Rio Dulce in Guatemala have a completely different perspective on rivers, boats, fish, swimming, and tropics, and see the world through those lenses. Life experiences from different environments provide different heuristics, or simple rules, to handle daily challenges in life. When two engineers from these two completely different environments are put together on a team to solve a problem about how to design space meals optimal for weight and reuse, the resulting output will be much richer than if the two engineers had both grown up in Titusville, Florida. For challenging problems, we need a team, ideally made up of people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse heuristics.”

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About Dr. Sunnie Giles:

Dr. Sunnie Giles is a new generation expert who catalyzes organizations to produce radical innovation by harnessing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).

Her research reveals that applying concepts from neuroscience, complex systems approach, and quantum mechanics can produce radical innovation consistently. Her expertise is based on years as an executive with Accenture, IBM and Samsung. Her profound, science-backed insight is encapsulated in her leadership development program, Quantum Leadership.

An advisor to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, she also is a sought-after speaker and expert source, having been quoted in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc.

 

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Leadership Lessons From Board Game Mechanics

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A few years ago the term “gamification” briefly became the vogue trend in business, much of which still exists today in certain manifestations. This was the application of game elements, mostly videogames, into processes to increase engagement, flow, or end-user experience.

As with any new development in new business models and techniques, this approach was both met with success and also mis-applied. Many that made gamificaiton work had infused fun and achievement into their workplace. Others that failed either mis-appropriated the principles or the fit was night right for their culture or business model.

However there is an effective way to incorporate game elements into your business and organization – by using the basic mechanics from board games.

The board game industry may seem like a trivial amusement fad, yet the mathematical processes and strategies that go into design and game play have served this industry well – to the tune of $9.4-9.6 billion of revenues worldwide.

Because of this, we can draw some ideas from their mechanics and find ways to apply them to making our organizations better.

  • Social interaction. Board games are hugely popular because they are social by nature. Bringing people together in friendly competition or joint cooperative fun has always caused people to connect at a high level, Creating more fun and engaging social interaction will enable your team to compete and collaborate more effectively and without barriers.
  • Minimize randomness. The Eurogame industry which fueled the board game boom in the late 1990s created games such as Puerto Rico or Agricola that were highly dependent on using items other than dice. This minimized the chance randomness and led to a more smooth and balanced gameplay. Companies can minimize randomness by discerning certain risks, constructing a smooth workflow, and designing better processes by beta testing to ensure minimal variables can disrupt the system when things are in motion.
  • Worker placement & resource management. As the game Settlers of Catan showcased, these are two popular mechanics that allow people to place their pawns on the board to access areas to their advantage, and to manage the limited resources available to all players to make the most strategic use of what can be gained. An organization that knows where to place their people effectively, and can create solid products and services from limited resources (or superb products and services from abundant resources should they have them) is showing they care not to waste these precious commodities and will consistently have higher returns for their efforts than the average organization.
  • Build your engine. In some games, the player needs to acquire cards, money, spaces, and other items in order to generate more cards, spaces and money in return. The classic game of Monopoly highlights this effect. Good companies know that to generate resources and money in smaller efforts that will generate even greater returns on these items more and more as time goes on is an effective means to a great ROI.
  • Cooperative experience. Not all games pit players against each other. Some games, like party games or the game Pandemic or Flash Point, will pit players to team up against the game itself to save the world from a plague or a house from burning down. And not all business has to have a one winner condition. Building teamwork, team goals, and team success and developing their skills and talents in ways that individual goals could never do. And even if the team does not achieve it’s goal, the by-product of learning from others and building a stronger culture within a groups will reap long-term dividends.
  • Replayability. Some games are good a few times, then become old quickly. The best games have variety built-in, never being the same twice, and always leave room for new scenarios and outcomes to occur. A successful company likewise shouldn’t be a one-trick pony – having a verity of solid people, goods, and services that can provide more to your customers is essential. Even if your organization specialize in a small niche, there is a wide array of service that can support that product, and people that can provide those services. Diversify within your model so your customers won’t get bored and shelf you for something more fun and exciting down the road.

Finding new ways to generate innovative processes and goals for your organization is what every leader works towards. Leadership principles can be found in every place if you look for them. Even in our digital age we can be inspired by bits of cardboard to teach us how to get better.

(image: theguardian)

 

How To Make Change After The Conference

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We’ve all seen and been a part of this: We come back from a workshop, conference, strategic planning session or other great event, excited to make these great changes. Great new ideas, lots of energy, and a broader vision has been instilled and you’re ready to effect change.

Fast forward just a few months later; the company has not been effected by those game-changing ideas, and any semblance of the workshop or conference’s impact is gone.

The same can be said for many of the books written, mastermind session hosted, or webinars attended. All loaded with great wisdom and sure to move the needle, these mediums for change seldom move the needle in an organization.

So much money is spent on conferences, travel, bookings, leadership and strategic development sessions and outside consultants only to see it get wasted because nothing lasting ever came out of those promising sessions. While, yes, some of what is put out there is fluff with no real depth, there is much more great content and resources out there that has true potential to make a difference if the right variables were in play.

So, what happened, and how can lasting impact be made?

First let’s look at some of the reasons why change did not occur:

  • Action plans were not made – many people fail to plan for what to do after. They just board the plane home and forget what they learned as they focus on what awaits for them back at work
  • Upper management saw the conference as an attitude adjustment for the employee – a lot of times managers send staff to events as a way to train or change the employee, without wanting to change themselves
  • The workshop was just for show – some companies have been know to be part of these events just by attending but fail to show they align with these initiatives
  • The attendees has a poor attitude about attending – a lot of individuals look at these events as drudgery, or as a mini-vacation from work, without any plan to improve or learn
  • Leadership is not aligned with any changes from such events – upper management never intended to change anything they do and would just rather stay their course of action
  • The one or few people who attend aren’t allowed much influence in subsequent changes – they come back with great ideas and are marginalized or squelched by their boss when they arrive and not allowed to implement any changes
  • Leadership minimized and wrote off what any impact would be – by sticking to their narrow vision and not seeing what new ideas or trends are out there, these types of leaders truncate any major impact these conferences or sessions can make for their company and customers

So if you want to get the best return for you investment form any book, webinar, conference, or workshop, here are the best ways to effect lasting change:

  • Get as many people attending as possible – does this cost more? Yes. But getting more people on board increases alignment, builds broader collaboration and generates more buzz and follow through to make a major impact
  • Have a team action plan session – have the people who attend make an action plan on what was learned no less than a week form the end of the event. if possible, make it within 48 hours while the ideas and energy are still fresh
  • Set goals and determine that the company will benefit from these ideas – make a hard goal plan that the organization will see these changes through towards improving operations, customer service, sales, etc. A goal will ensure the company adopts these changes and doesn’t forsake them
  • Set incremental milestones to make sure actions steps are on track – refer to the conference material after 30, 60, 90 days to ensure the momentum stays on track.  Nothing derails planned change like time; keep refreshing the ideas and energy at no more than 30 day periods.
  • Take the key points and find the best application for them in our business culture and model – it’s easy to tell yourself that some, or many, ideas won’t apply to your business. The best companies find a way to make these work for them and leverage a differentiation from them
  • Go with an attitude of learning and professionalism – many people who attend these events take them as a big bash and spend far too much time at the bar and instead of finding ways to improve themselves and their company

At the end of it all, it’s up to you as a leader to adopt ideas into lasting change. Don’t waste your time and money, and that of your employees, or the speaker’s time, by just attending and doing nothing to improve your company or your customer’s experience.

(image: wikimedia commons)

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